Saturday, 24 March 2012

First taste of England

It has been nothing short of chaos since we touched down at Gatwick airport. Starting with navigation around some of the world’s most complex roundabouts, to van-searching in the downtown slums of London. 650 Miles in four days finally lead us to a van, and over 2hrs of phone calls in a day to insure one vehicle – we’ve had quite an experience so far!

We’ve already covered many miles through the country sides and cities, and this has really proved to be a truly beautiful country. The weather is a small price to pay for the people that you interact with, and the way everything operates so efficiently. It’s also great to be in such a modern community that still lives in the 16th century – well, their houses, buildings and country roads.

We landed on Thursday 15th March, got our hire car and headed straight to T3 Racing in Kent to see the bike! There stood our brand new Triumph Daytona 675 race bike, only pending stickers, just calling me to take it out on track!

Friday, we set out on a mission to find a van, insurance and finalise our flat in Colchester. So we made the hour drive to Colchester from Kent, under the Thames in the Dartford Tunnel and into Essex. There we met up with Bjorn Estment - fellow South African racer and future flat mate. We spent the entire day searching for vans and just viewed our prospecting flat from the outside.

We headed home to Kent empty handed in terms of flat and van progress, but not in tourist treats – seeing the beautiful country sides and lifestyle of the British was an eye-opener. A great sight is crossing over the Thames via the incredible Dartford Suspension Bridge!

With more phoning and searching that evening, we realised our ideal van would be harder to find than anticipated. After days more of travelling from Colchester, west-bound to the slums of London with “Honest Joe” nearly taking us for a ride, we eventually found THE van on eBay in Hastings – The very south coast of the UK. We were the only bidders just hours before it was due to close, and after speaking with the seller and arranging to pick the van up on Sunday morning, we were sure we had it. Then, 8 seconds before closing, a car dealer outbid us and we lost it as we were going to fetch it! All was lost, we were desperate and thought we found our break and it was a perfect fit for what we need. We slumped down, despondent and disappointed to search again. Then the phone rang, and the seller decided we needed the van more than a salesman who was just going to make a quick buck off it, and said he cancelled with the bidder and would sell it to us! We were elated and immediately rushed down to buy it.

We would like to thank Roy, the seller, for being so kind and helpful to us in getting this essential part of our season together – we greatly appreciate it!

We drove off with our bright red 2007 Ford Transit and spent the whole of Monday trying to find insurance for it – I am sure it would have been easier to start our own insurance company than it was to find someone to insure us at a reasonable rate. With insurance quotes at nearly the same value as the van, and over 2 hours on the phone and £20/R240 airtime later, we finally got it insured at a respectable rate.

Next was the Flat, which we had settled on and were moving into on Monday, or so we thought. The estate agents had different plans! We had booked out of our BnB and planned to move in, when we were told we had to sign some forms and then it was ours, BUT they had to do reference checks which take 3 days… So now we had nowhere to stay! Reluctantly, we are back in the horrifically expensive BnBs until Thursday. So we are due to move in after our first trackday at Brands Hatch.

With all of this out of our hair soon, we are looking forward to getting on track with our new bike. We are going to be at Brands on Wednesday for the official BSB (British Super Bike) testing, but will only be riding on Thursday.

That’s our story so far – plenty more to come, and we will keep you all updated!

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